If there’s one thing that seasoned drivers can agree on, it’s that many aspects of trucking have changed pretty drastically since this technological renaissance we’re living in first began. Some truck drivers have welcomed these transformations, while others just want to relive the good ol’ days of trucking. Whenever you need a glimpse into the old way of things, take a minute to reflect on the life and career of Bill “Poacher” Reeves of Frostproof, Florida.
Bill Reeves was born in Decatur, Mississippi on December 24th, 1937. At the age of seventeen, he decided it was time to hop in the driver’s seat and get his hands on the wheel of a truck, so he started hauling cattle. On September 27th, 1967 Bill married the love of his life, JoAnn. Behind every good man is a strong woman to support him, and that is no exception for JoAnn – she has stood by his side for forty-six years and continues to be his rock. In 1972 he bought a brand new ‘72 “Little Window” Peterbilt with a Cummins motor and a 5×4 transmission. Bill Reeves knew he had a pearl in that classic Peterbilt, so he just decided that he would not ever get a newer model truck and would just keep running this one forever. Since then, his rig has been upgraded but never traded.
Poacher’s light blue and white ride became legendary on the highways, as he hauled cattle from Florida to out west, running to places as far as California, New Mexico, Arizona and west Texas, until he retired in December of 2012. In the 1980s, he owned up to five trucks and trailers. He later decided that it was better to only have his one truck and two trailers, and he would allow other people to pull his spare trailer. That’s how I met Bill. When I was just getting started, I pulled Bill’s extra trailer sometimes, and we have been friends ever since. Today, I run nine trucks, reefers and cow trailers, and “Poacher” is still my hero, mentor, inspiration and friend. Over his long trucking career, Bill hauled out of D&S Cattle for over forty-five years!
Mr. Reeves is best known for his upstanding honesty and his motto that a man is only as good as his word. He has acted as a father-figure for young people all over the state, and has even been known to pull over and help out broken-down truck drivers on the side of the road, usually just telling the driver to “step aside” because he’s got it.
Bill Reeves is a real, living legend. He’s no mythological demigod from Ancient Greece and he’s not a super hero from one of Stan Lee’s comic books, but you can ask truckers from all over this nation and you’ll hear the same thing – the “Poacher” is Rig Royalty!
EDITOR’S NOTE: We would like to thank Garry Walker (40) and his son Austin (19) of Winter Haven, Florida for writing this article and sending us the photos. We would also like to thank our very own Bill “LA Rookie” Weekley of Bay Minette, Alabama for making sure we knew how well-known and influential this man has been to this industry – we need more guys like Bill Reeves, today!